Pastors & Staff

Sam Hayes

Senior Pastor

Rev. Dr. Sam Hayes is the Senior Pastor at GFUMC.  He is a native of North Alabama and a life-long Methodist.  He and his wife, Tammy, have been married for over 26 years, and they have three children:  Emily Kate (a sophomore at Birmingham-Southern College), Allison (a senior at Gadsden City High School) and Michael (a junior at Gadsden City High School).

Sam studied at The University of North Alabama, Emory University, and George Fox University and has over 30 years of ministry experience.  He loves reading, hiking, playing the guitar, and stays busy going to all the performances of his very “musical” wife and children.

Andy Yarnell

Associate Pastor

Andy has been serving as a youth director for 9 years and also serving as a local pastor for the past 3 years. His favorite areas of ministry are local missions, youth ministry, and sharing Christ with those outside the walls of the church. In his free time Andy loves hanging out with his wife Jenn, and daughter Afton. Andy loves to hike, and walk his dog. If he’s not at the church, you can probably find him on the Black Creek Trail.

Coming Soon

Children's Director

Sheila Freeman

Connectional Ministries

Sheila Freeman served as Director of Children's Ministries at GFUMC for 18 years, with a love for teaching and reaching children for Christ. Beginning in 2019, Sheila became the Director of Connectional Ministries. Sheila serves Gadsden First UMC by connecting people to the Jesus Christ and with one another through her work with small groups, events, activities and worship opportunities, as well as through the church's website, app, social media platforms and print media.  Sheila has four children, Haley (Hoover, AL), Ashley (Carbondale, IL), Kelsey Freeman (New Orleans, LA) and Michael Freeman (Nashville, TN) and two grandchildren, Kinley, and Eli. Sheila enjoys spending time with her family and her hobbies include traveling, tennis and a love of music.

Helene Haller

Early Learning Center Director

Hi and welcome to Gadsden First.  My name is Helene Haller and I am the Director of the Early Learning Center.  I was born in Nashville, TN but grew up in Murfreesboro.  I am the youngest of six children and my father loved to call me his “caboose”.  I graduated cum laude from Birmingham-Southern College in 1991 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  I married Bill Haller, III in July, 1994.  We have two beautiful daughters:  Megan and Allie.
I have lived in Gadsden since June 2002 and joined Gadsden First later that summer.  Both my girls attended the ELC and I loved all aspects of the program.  I served as ELC Board Chair for the 5 years prior to becoming the director in August 2013.  I feel honored and blessed to be here.  I love being able to help new mothers realize the benefit for both them and their children coming to play with us.  I get excited to welcome our students each year and see how they grow and mature.

Susan Swann

Church Secretary

Susan Miller Swann has been a member of GFUMC for 24 years. After retiring from the State of Alabama. She started volunteering as a receptionist with the church. This led to substituting for the church secretary and then the full time position. She is married with two daughters and one son who is deceased.
Her roots are in the Methodist church as she grew up attending all her life.

Jane Newman

Financial Secretary

Jane has been in some form of church work since she was 16 years old.  She has worked at Gadsden First UMC as the Financial Secretary for 20 years.  She has two children, Laura Swann and Joe Kirby, and two grandchildren, Raylan Swann and Kaizlea Kirlby.  Jane graduated from Glencoe High School and attended Gadsden State and graduated from Jacksonville State.  When she is not working, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and working in her yard.

Matthew Vance

Building Supervisor

Matthew became Building Supervisor in August of 2016.   His goal here is not only to keep the building needs taken care of, but also to take care of the members needs as well.  He loves working here at GFUMC.  It is a great place to work with great staff and members.  Matthews hobbies include collecting model cars and working outdoors.

Michael Fortenberry


Michael joined the staff in August of 2019.